Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Major Professor

Michael R. Pelton

Committee Members

James L. Byford, Ralph W. Dimmick


Gray squirrels were collected from six physiographic regions in Tennessee during the fall of 1968, 1969, and 1970. Data recorded included body weights and measurements, adrenal gland weights, fat levels, age and sex ratios, and endoparasite burdens. Total body weight, total body length, and tail length were significantly greater (P < 0.05) for gray squirrels from the eastern collection sites. The variation in body measurements between eastern and western collection sites may indicate an extension of the area occupied by the larger subspecies S. c. pennsylvanicus. The sex ratio of gray squirrels was 104 males per 100 females for the entire study. An increase in the ratio in favor of males during the 1969-70 collection period was attributed to low populations resulting from a decrease in mast during the fall of 1969 and to increased susceptibility of males to hunting. A higher percentage of subadults collected in 1970 was likely a response to improved survival of juveniles during the summer and fall. The greater survival of juveniles in 1970 was attributed to the increase in available mast in the fall of 1970. The lower percentage of juveniles during 1968 and 1969 was apparently the result of the less available mast in the fall. Squirrels collected during the 1969 and 1970 hunting seasons were significantly (P < 0.05) fatter than squirrels collected during the 1968 hunting season. The apparent improved physical condition was likely a response of the squirrel population to better mast production during the fall of 1970. Sixteen species of endoparasites were identified from the gray squirrel in Tennessee. No gross pathological effects were noted due to the presence of these parasites. Hymenolepsis diminuta, Taenia spp., Moniliformis clarki, Nudacotyle norvica, Ascaris spp., Syphacia thompsoni, Enterobius sciuri, Trichostrongylus calcaratus, Pterygoder-matites parkeri, and Gongylonema pulchrum were considered incidental parasites of the gray squirrel because of the low infection rates and sporadic occurrence. Infection rates of Citellinema bifurcatum and Strongyloides robustus were significantly higher (P < 0.05) in gray squirrels from the Tellico and Chuck Swan WMA's. The higher infection rates were attributed to the high populations of gray squirrels on the above study areas during the 1968 season. Infections of Citellinema bifurcatum, Enterobius sciuri, Heligmodendrium hassalli, and Strongyloides robustus decreased during the 1969-70 collection period. This decline was significant (P <0.05) for C. bifurcatum but not for the other species. The decrease in infection coincided with the decrease in squirrel population density during 1969 in Tennessee. High population densities of gray squirrels on the Ames Plantation and Shelby WMA were likely responsible for a significantly greater (P < 0.05) infection rate of C. bifurcatum, H. hassalli, and S. robustus during the 1969-70 collection period. Tellico, Chuck Swan, and Catoosa WMAs had low populations in the 1969-70 collection period as shown by hunter bag check indexes; the low squirrel population was likely responsible for the low infection rates from the above areas.

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